Celebrate President’s Day with First Pitches
Did you know that President Taft was the first president to toss the ceremonial first pitch before a Major League Baseball game? He did in in 1910 on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium before a Washington Senators game. Since Taft, every president has followed suit taking the mound at some point during his presidency.
Franklin Roosevelt holds the record for the most times a president got the honor, hurling nine different times (eight opening days and an All-Star Game). Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable performances of presidents over the past century:
President Barack Obama tossed the ball to Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, kicking off the 2010 baseball season in the nation’s capital. His pitch sailed high and wide. After the President was criticized for taking time off to attend a baseball game, he stayed home in 2011. With his reelection in mind, will Obama take the mound at a ballpark this spring?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
After the September 11 attacks, America looked to President George W. Bush for leadership. He delivered it in many ways in the days afterward, including his appearance at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the World Series. His fastball represented much more. At that “troubled time,” said a blogger on the National Archives website, “a baseball game helped us come together” and “a pitch showed the resolve of a nation.”
President Clinton was the first president to make his pitch from the mound — previously they came symbolically from the stands. He let go of a slow, hanging pitch that he says he wasn’t happy with. “Most of my practice pitches were much better,” he said.
PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON
On Opening Day in 1965, President Johnson opened the season with the Washington Senators. Even some of the opposing Red Sox players were amazed by the moment, as you can see in the footage below.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT
In his first Opening Day pitch, President Roosevelt misses his mark. “Roosevelt’s pitch is wild but we’ll forgive him. Everybody knows he has plenty on the ball,” the announcer says.
PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON
A jovial President Wilson throws out the first pitch at an unnamed game. Could it have been the 1915 World Series? That was when President Wilson became the first president to get the ceremonial honors at a World Series game.